Spiritual Direction

Front Cover of Spiritual Direction

Spiritual Direction

Principles and Practices

One of today's most eminent Christian leaders describes 10 principles of spiritual direction and 10 guidelines for prayer, discernment, and asceticism. Morneau shares a rich understanding of reverence, the primacy of joy, and gives a series of delightful spiritual exercises for "eclectic nomads."

To lead a good spiritual life, to know true inner peace, and to abide in God are goals of all Christians. In Spiritual Direction, one of today’s most eminent Christian Leaders lays out a path toward spiritual maturity. He describes ten principles of spiritual direction and ten guidelines for prayer, discernment, and asceticism. He shares a rich understanding of reverence and the primacy of joy, and gives a series of delightful spiritual exercises for “electric nomads.” Finally, the author shares what riches he has found in Quaker spirituality.

Reviews and endorsements

Essentially this introductory book to spirituality is a compilation of the author’s previously published articles. Robert Morneau, Auxiliary Bishop of Green Bay, Wisconsin, confesses that he is an "eclectic nomad." That is to say, his reading habits often find him grazing in various pastures. This pertains more to his explorations of literary works than to excursions into Protestantism. The only exceptions being a few references to C. S. Lewis, Jim Wallis, and Walter Brueggemann. 

At the outset, Morneau asserts his own need for periodic refreshment along the spiritual journey. The articles that comprise this work are the distillation of more than twenty years of reading and meditating on spirituality. Additional reflection on this spiritual smorgasbord yielded various patterns common to many of his sources. It is these emergent paradigms that the author sketches before us. Each chapter follows an identical format, A principle is succinctly stated (most chapters have ten). A cluster of three illustrative quotes are marshalled as a means of demonstrating the principle. This is followed by a brief commentary that explores the implication or application of each successive theme.

Readers will quickly recognize that the given title of this book is misleading. While one chapter is devoted to spiritual direction, the focus is much broader. The eight sections that comprise this volume are subdivided into two categories of four. The initial four explores the principles of prayer, discernment, asceticism, and spiritual direction. The concluding four examine the practice of reverence, spiritual exercises for eclectic nomads, joy and Quaker spirituality.

If one is seeking a helpful overview or a general introduction to the spiritual life, especially with a Roman Catholic slant, consider this book. The style is highly readable and easily laid out. However, for the seasoned reader or person of prayer there is nothing fresh except for the final section on Quaker spirituality. The present reviewer found it to be a concise and valuable summary of this important outgrowth of Puritanism. Additionally it should be noted that this brief book contains more than the normal amount of misspelling and editorial snafus.
Theological Journal


Bishop Morneau has done a wonderful thing. He has produced a happy textbook on spiritual direction. He has followed the cut-and-dried outline of all text books. Then, with his own creative and joyful spirit he has breathed life into the little volume and made it into an inspiring as well as practical spiritual “vade mecum", handy to consult, easy to use, overflowing with a wealth of spiritual wisdom culled, not only from the immense number and variety of spiritual writers quoted, but also from his own depth of spirituality as well as his profound knowledge of human nature.

Part I has four chapters dealing with Principles-of prayer of discernment, of asceticism and of spiritual direction. Each chapter gives ten principles, articulated and elucidated in a three-step method that includes a statement, illustrated with apt quotations and developed in brief commentary.

Part II, devoted to Practice, is also a reflection on obstacles to our spiritual growth caused by the speed, noise and superficiality of modern-day living. As antidotes the author offers the benefits that accrue from the cultivation of reverence, and a spirit of joy. In a final chapter on Quaker spirituality, he extols the healing power of silence.
Living Prayer


Spiritual Direction: Principles and Practice by Robert Morneau will appeal to the more ”eclectic" reader who desires to examine a wide range of spiritual disciplines. Morneau considers ten principles of spiritual direction along with ten guidelines for prayer. His first principle, that "prayer is essentially loving attention,” sets the tone for the work.
Chaplain Service Institute Resource


Green Bay Auxiliary Bishop Robert F. Morneau is a popular speaker and writer. His fans will be glad to get Spiritual Direction: Principles and Practices
National Catholic Register


Bishop Morneau offers ten principles for spiritual direction and ten guidelines for prayer, discernment, and asceticism. A Catholic bishop writing on Quaker spirituality? This, too.

“Quaker spirituality strives for that unity with God and unity among people that permeate all true spiritual journeys.” On Emily Dickinson, no less: “In her life, joy and suffering were inextricably bound together.” This is a book punctuated with delightful surprises, one that reflects the author’s broadness of mind and depth of insight. Excellent reading.


Auxiliary bishop Morneau writes that the goals of all Christians are to lead a good spiritual life, to know true inner peace, and to abide in God. This small book lays out a path for spiritual maturity by describing ten principles of spiritual direction and ten guidelines for prayer, discernment and asceticism, Recommended.
Spiritual Frontier


Offering nourishment for life's journey in Spiritual Direction: Principles and Practices, Bishop Morneau presents us with guiding principles of prayer, discernment, asceticism and spiritual direction. The practices he outlines deal with reverence, spiritual exercises, joy and Quaker spirituality. He states, as a basic guideline for spiritual direction, that it is "an inter-personal process of growth in which God's call is heard and responded to in faith" (p. 79). Morneau goes on to detail this and other principles that will help us to respond to the "touch of God's hand upon the human soul" (p. 79). Dealing with the experience of joy in our life, he reflects upon its sources: presence, truth, meaningfulness, love (pp. 120-128). Continuing the focus on spiritual direction, Vanek, in Image Guidance, "leads the reader into that realm of the psyche where the imagination itself becomes a spiritual guide" (p. v). From her own experience of the healing power of images, Vanek outlines the background and method for image guidance-the use of personal, inner images to heal, to guide and to illumine (cf. p. 1 )—and explains how it can be a means of understanding our relationship with God. She also addresses the use of image guidance for the unchurched, in healing and as a means of understanding the self. The third book analyzes the nature and validity of spiritual friendship. Chervin focuses on the divine dimension, when both friends root their love in God. Drawing on Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Francis de Sales and others, she delineates the stages that occur as spiritual friendship grows and develops. Perhaps the value of such friendships is summed up in the Celtic proverb: "anyone with-out a soul-friend is a body without a head" (p. 13).
Spiritual Life


THE AUTHOR, the auxiliary bishop of Green Bay, Wisconsin, has written articles on the spiritual journey and published them in various periodicals. This book collects those articles (1979-87) with the author's hope that readers "will find them as markings or intersections of grace and not distractions."

Part One presents separate chapters on principles of prayer, discernment, asceticism and spiritual direction. Each of these chapters follows a three-step method: a statement of principle (10 per chapter), a series of quotations giving the source of the principle or showing its effects, and finally a commentary developing various implications buried within the principle and/or quotations.

These four chapters account for 92 of the book's 144 pages.

Part Two presents individual chapters on reverence, spiritual exercises for eclectic nomads, in defense of joy and Quaker spirituality. This volume cites well-known and little-known authors-always to the point-with the sources identified in footnotes on each page. Bishop Morneau, a regular reviewer in this column, must read extensively and take many notes.

In one sense, a quote which he uses from C. S. Lewis could describe the whole spiritual journey: "My idea of God is not a divine idea. It has to be shattered time after time."

Bishop Morneau has several gems of his own making. For instance, "Prayer, that means of nurturing our relationship with the Lord, is sometimes not practiced because we dread the demands of discipleship." Or, "Nobility is the offspring of reverence; the noble person embraces and accepts suffering and death as a part of human existence.

Bitterness, resentment and rage find free expression where nobility and reverence are absent." Speaking of the Quakers, he says, "Their deep faith and their concern for social issues demonstrate an integrated spirituality."

Perhaps other readers would be interested in seeing Bishop Morneau develop an entire book along the lines of his chapter on Quaker spirituality, showing the distinctive contributions of various Christian traditions (for example, Lutheran, Methodist, Baptist, Mennonite/Amish, etc.) to the spiritual journey.

Spiritual Direction: Principles and Practices is well worth the time and money readers will invest in it.
St. Anthony Messenger

The author, who is chairman of the U. S. Catholic Bishops’ Committee on the Laity, shares with other practitioners in spiritual direction the fruits of his wide and clearly highly enjoyed reading and experience. In each of four chapters, together spanning a hundred pages, Morneau adopts a three-step method: l. a statement of principle; 2. a series of quotations that gives the source of the principle or demonstrates its effect; and 3. a commentary developing various implications buried within the principle and/or quotations and, where appropriate, a case study of the theme. The four chapters, each of which make ten points, cover Principles of Prayer, of Discernment, of Asceticism, and of Spiritual Direction. To give an idea of his sources, and to encourage a wide use of this delightful small book, it is worth listing some of the authors on which he draws to illuminate his teaching: Romano Guardini, Alan Paton, William Shakespeare, John of the Cross, Catherine of Siena, Wallace Stegner, Teresa of Jesus, Peter Berger, Dag Hammarskjöld, Hermann Hesse, Michael Polanyi, Paul Tillich, Karl Rahner, James Joyce, Chaim Potok. The book concludes with four further chapters, like the first, reprinted from a variety of periodicals, of which the last on Quaker spirituality is particularly worthwhile.
Victor A. de Waal, Institute for Advanced Research in the Humanities,


“If one is seeking a helpful overview or a general introduction to the spiritual life… consider this book: Highly readable.”
Patricia O’Connell Killen, author of The Art of Theological Reflection

Paperback / 144 pages
Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9